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Steelers' Heinz Field landlord says it doesn't have to pay for new seats

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Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, 2:28 p.m.
 

The Sports & Exhibition Authority on Friday repeated its argument that it is not obligated to pay $29 million to cover most of the costs of a long-delayed 3,000-seat expansion and other upgrades to Heinz Field on the North Shore.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, doing business as PSSI Stadium Corp., filed a lawsuit in October to try to force the SEA, the football team's landlord, to pay to build seats in the south end zone, install a second video scoreboard in the north end zone and upgrade the stadium's control board.

The taxpayer-funded authority contends it is not responsible for the costs because Heinz Field, which opened in 2001, is comparable to other National Football League stadiums. SEA officials, who filed a brief on Friday, say the expansion does not qualify as a covered “capital improvement.”

A clause in the 30-year lease between the SEA and the Steelers says similar, publicly subsidized expansions must have occurred in at least half of other NFL stadiums. That has not happened.

In the lengthiest response to PSSI's lawsuit to date, SEA officials said the entire expansion and upgrade project the Steelers proposed would cost $39.2 million. It says the Steelers organization wants to contribute about $10.2 million toward the $30 million seat expansion project and expects the SEA to pay for the rest.

The scoreboard's cost is estimated at $3.65 million, and the control room upgrades, which the team has made, cost $5 million.

Jeremy Boren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7935or jboren@tribweb.com.

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